In face of injustice, she is example to us all

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Steven Truscott and wife Marlene are shown yesterday in Toronto.

She’s a Canadian woman warrior — perhaps more than any other wife in Canadian history. She stood by her man until they both won their epic battle for justice.

Marlene Truscott’s courageous journey of 42 years with her husband, Steven Truscott started in a most unlikely and unpromising way, with an introduction to a convicted murderer soon after he had served his prison term and was released.

Their strong, vibrant and committed marriage continues today in pride and victory along with their three grown children, as Steven, 62, received a historic apology for the miscarriage of justice that occurred 48 years ago, plus an acquittal from the Ontario Court of Appeal yesterday.

Marlene always knew her man was innocent. Yesterday, at the press conference following his acquittal, Steven said, “My wife has been my strongest supporter in the world. She’s been there from the start, believed in me, never wavered, and she’s such an inspiration for me. I don’t what I would have ever done without her.” The case was already notorious when Marlene fell in love — convicted at 14, in 1959, for the brutal rape and murder of 12-year old schoolmate Lynn Harper, Steven Truscott was sentenced to hang. Unthinkable. Then in Grade 7, he was the youngest person ever to face Canada’s then-existent death penalty. Only after four months of dread was his sentence commuted to life imprisonment, and he was paroled 10 years later.

Marlene read the impassioned 1966 book by Isabel LeBourdais, The Trial Of Steven Truscott, and was convinced of the injustice. For more than 30 years, Marlene raised her three children, Leslie, Ryan and Devon, under an assumed name (Brennan, his mother’s maiden name).

But in 2000, she bravely went public by his side on CBC’s The Fifth Estate, using the name Truscott in which he proclaimed his innocence. She came out with determination and tenacity for the long fight.

Anyone who met, interviewed, or got to know Marlene can tell you that she was tireless in her correspondence, constantly compiling facts, and researching the case, and working with the lawyers who took it on. Win Wahrer, director of client services for the Association in Defence of the Wrongly Convicted has said of Steven “that he’s a man who knows who he is, and he’s never allowed anyone to rob him of who and what he is — no matter what they’ve done to him ... he’s honest, hardworking, a good husband and neighbour.” Which is exactly why Marlene has never faltered, nor lost faith in her love and her fight for her man.

Marlene Truscott is a model for women the world over. What she has accomplished, by choosing to take this difficult path to uncover the truth, is admirable and honourable. But it’s more than that — it’s downright awe-inspiring.

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